Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Unlikely Journey Brings 3-Star Elijah Strong to BC as Grant’s Latest Recruit

If you asked Boston College men’s basketball’s newest recruit Elijah Strong earlier this year if he’d be committed to play for an ACC team, he probably wouldn’t have believed you. 

“I wasn’t in good shape,” Strong said. “I was just a mediocre big.” 

No ACC team was looking for that. So Strong, instead, committed to Wofford of the Southern Conference in September of 2022. 

But Strong, who characterized himself as a worker, managed to get his body right and take a huge jump during his senior season while playing for Myers Park High School in Charlotte, N.C. and Team Curry AAU basketball—enough to grab BC’s attention. 

Everything occurred super late in the process for Strong. He decommitted from Wofford in January due to a coaching change and only received his BC offer about three weeks ago. The three-star knew it was his best option, but didn’t decide until he stepped foot on campus with BC head coach Earl Grant two weekends ago. His commitment became official on Thursday

“The connection being genuine,” Strong said of why he chose BC. “I saw myself being in that jersey and I feel like Coach Grant made it clear he would love to have me.” 

Strong had offers from Atlantic 10 schools such as George Mason, Duquesne, and St. Bonaventure, and also received late interest from Vanderbilt and St. John’s before ultimately choosing BC after his visit. 

“I meshed with the guys on my visit,” Strong said. “I was like, ‘I could see myself being around these people, pretty much every day of my life.’” 

And there’s no question if Strong fits in with Grant’s “gritty not pretty” mentality, as Strong said Grant told him he’s a perfect player for the program for that exact reason.

“My defensive versatility is continuing to improve day by day,” Strong said. “And I think I will be, like, a really good matchup for anybody who has the ball in their hand.”

Joining a 2023 recruiting class that features fellow three-stars Fred Payne and Jayden Hastings, Strong sees himself playing as a freshman, but reiterated he just wants to make an impact in any way he can. 

“I feel like I have the ability to make an impact immediately,” Strong said. “I think I will mesh really well with the guys.”

While Strong said is yet to talk to his fellow recruiting class, he believes that the trio will not only make an impact next year, but in the distant future as well. 

“The years to come will be really good,” Strong said. “It’s not just going to be next year. It’s gonna be my sophomore year, my junior year. I just think the three of us are just gonna do nothing but improve.”

With T.J. Bickerstaff transferring to James Madison and CJ Penha Jr. graduating, there is an opening for a rotational forward. Strong described himself as an all-around power forward who could be used in a multitude of ways. 

“I can catch and shoot, I have a nice build to body down low,” Strong said. “I can make a play. I’m just a worker.”

His versatility is a tool Strong said he will use to his advantage, especially when playing alongside 2023 ACC Most Improved Player and 7-footer Quinten Post, who recently announced he would return to BC for his final year of college. 

“I was really happy because I really, really wanted to play with him,” Strong said. “I feel like my versatility, like, our one-two would be really, really hard to stop.

The 6-foot-8, 245-pound Strong credited the competition he faced in high school at Myers Park as to what will help him prepare for the increased competition in the ACC, as he helped lead Myers to a North Carolina state championship win as a senior. Strong also noted that playing in the Under Armour circuit exposed him to the high-level of talent he will see in college. 

“I’m definitely gonna have to adjust and I’m probably going to struggle a little bit,” Strong said. “I’m a freshman going into ACC. But I’m really confident in my ability to translate my game from high school to college.” 

Like recent transfer-commit Claudell Harris Jr., Strong emphasized he’ll bring more than enough energy to Conte Forum on game days. 

“I like to scream, I like to yell, hype the crowd up,” Strong said. “Y’all will be experiencing a lot of that from my standpoint.” 

But at the end of the day, it’s still surreal for Strong to believe he made it to this level. He said he cannot wait to get to work when he arrives on campus in mid-July.

“It’s really crazy to think about, because just, like, as a kid you would dream of playing UNC at UNC,” Strong said. “Or dream of going to Duke and beating them. And the crazy part is I have the chance to do that. And I could be one of the very few people who’s ever touched a basketball to say they did that. So I’m just really excited for the opportunity to be at Boston College.”

April 26, 2023